4 December 2005
Why we do this…
My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving. We went out to dinner with them, alone – as in, no kids – on Saturday night. We took them to an Indian restaurant, with their assent, but once we sat down my mom announced that my dad doesn’t like curry! It wasn’t too disastrous, as this particular restaurant has many grilled tandoori selections (and I suspect their authentic curries would not remind him of food prepared with curry powder from a jar, but why risk it?).
This presented the perfect opportunity for me to ask my mom a question that has been nagging at me for months. I get so frustrated at the pickiness of the young eaters at our house. I have never been comfortable with requiring them to eat a few bites of everything (or even requiring mere tastes!), or of the other extreme of making entirely separate meals for them. Yet I will make similar-yet-acceptable things (e.g. pasta without sauce), or toss in convenience food that does not require additional effort (e.g. toss in chicken nuggets since the oven is hot). Of when those aren’t possible, we try to always have ‘acceptable’ options available – bread and butter, yogurt, etc.
The question I had for my mom was how she handled my pickiness. I remember, for example, eating plain noodles when everybody else had spaghetti sauce. But I also remember being ‘forced’ to eat things – mashed potatoes, peas, chipped turkey on toast, scrambled eggs, etc.
But while we were having this conversation, my parents said the most astonishing things! For example, my dad said, “We never required you to finish anything, just eat a few bites” – but yet I distinctly remember being required to finish mashed potatoes (which I always left for last, and which always got cold and unappetizing), finish peas, etc. My mom said “I just made things everybody liked” – but also “There wasn’t really much you didn’t like, except [cooked canned] spinach, and I didn’t like that either.” She commented on a particular aunt’s belief that I was too picky by pointing out the pickiness of that family. I know I was picky as a child, I don’t need someone defending me against that charge – I just wanted to know how she dealt with it.
So like I said, i was astonished. I challenged some of this, telling them my perspective (the cold mashed potatoes, peas snuck to dogs under the table or into napkins, etc.). It was their turn to act surprised. It felt very much like a Twilight Zone episode.
The next week, I related this experience to my friend Roger, and we both wondered what revisionist history our children would face. “That’s why we keep blogs” he said. “So 30 years from now, we’ll have evidence.” So I guess i need to post things that will bolster my position – and make sure the boys don’t have their own blogs, so they won’t have a written record to point to. :^)